Melinda Doolittle may not have won the sixth season of the "American Idol" singing competition back in 2007, but along the way she did win several other things, including more confidence, good experience and plenty of fans. And on her debut solo album, Coming Back to You (released in the U.S. on Feb. 3, 2009), Melinda shows and proves once again that she's a strong - no, make that powerful - vocalist who's versatile enough to incorporate various musical styles, including R&B, Soul, Gospel and Pop, into her songs. On the list of R&B-leaning former "American Idol" hopefuls and winners, Melinda Doolittle's near the top.
If you were a fan of Melinda Doolittle during her time on "American Idol," there's almost no way you could be disappointed in Coming Back to You
. Nearly the entire album is very "Idol"-esque and influenced by the TV show, including Melinda's vocal delivery and the song choices. The album's first single is a lovely slice of new-retro Soul called "It's Your Love,"
and is a near-perfect re-introduction to Melinda to those who haven't heard her in awhile (or the perfect introduction for those who haven't heard her before). The song showcases her two biggest vocal attributes: power and emotion. The song, which is about the strength of true love, could have been an ordinary track, but soars thanks to Melinda's passionate, on-point vocals.
Another of the album's best songs is "Dust My Broom," an uptempo, defiant song about breaking up with a cheating man. Melinda gives such a gritty, gutty performance on the track that it would no doubt make even the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, proud. Likewise, "The Best of Everything" is another retro-Soul gem that highlights Melinda's vocal talents.
A Respected Artist
© Hi Fi Recordings.
But although old-school Soul is Melinda's main forte on the album, it's not the only genre she experiments with. She covers the old Robert Johnson track, "Walkin' Blues," adding a layer of pop sheen to the blues song, plus also utilizes blues elements in the album's opening track, "Fundamental Things," an ode to the good ol' days when things were simpler. And the album's closer, "Wonder Why," is a classic-sounding pop standard that could have been sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan or Eartha Kitt.
And although Melinda deserves credit for trying new things and not completely sticking with one formula, the album is definitely at its best when Melinda is showcasing her down-home Soul singing skills. On this album, she shows that when it comes to real, genuine Soul, Melinda's almost at the same level skill-wise as former "Idol" competitors Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia Barrino, and ahead of most other people who made their names singing R&B on "Idol," including the velvet teddy bear himself, Ruben Studdard. And if Melinda keeps releasing quality, substantive music like this, she's got a long career as a respected artist ahead of her.